Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (Environmental Protection Agency)

Graham Kates filed this request with the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America.
Tracking #

EPA-HQ-2017-008872

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Graham Kates

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

All emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Graham Kates

From: foia_hq@epa.gov

This message is to confirm your request submission to the FOIAonline application: View Request. Request information is as follows: (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d2813dea13)
* Tracking Number: EPA-HQ-2017-008872
* Requester Name: Graham Kates
* Date Submitted: 06/27/2017
* Request Status: Submitted
* Description: Requesting all emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017.

From: Hall, Tayoka

Hello Katie

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-008872

This letter concerns the above-referenced Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) on Thursday June 27, 2017, in which you requested "...all emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017."

The Agency would like to process your FOIA request as expeditiously as possible. However, we have questions with respect to the scope of the request. As received, your request extends beyond a single EPA employee (current and former), single office, and may require multi-agency engagement. Due to extremely limited resources at this time, this may mean extremely slow and incremental release of information that may extend over several months before the request can be fully completed. In order to reduce the amount of time for assessing resources, reduce the amount of records to be gathered, as well as initially determine and potentially reduce costs to you, it may be more valuable to narrow the scope of your request. Please consider narrowing your request to a specific subject that may only involve a single EPA employee (current and former), a single office, or a specific agency. Without this clarification we are unable to appropriately begin assessing approximate response times and costs for your request.

We would like to provide you the opportunity to clarify the records that you are seeking. This FOIA request is tolled until we receive your clarification or modification. Please respond to this request for clarification or modification within ten calendar days from the date of this letter. Once we receive your clarification or modification, we will continue processing your FOIA request. If we do not receive a response from you within this time period, we will consider your request to be voluntarily withdrawn.

Please contact me at hall.tayoka@epa.gov or I can be reached at (202) 564-0963 if you would like to set up a time to further discuss your request.

Thank you for taking the time to reconsider the scope of your request.

Sincerely,

Tayoka Hall

Program Analyst

Office of Environmental Justice

From: Hall, Tayoka

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-008872

This letter concerns the above-referenced Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) on Thursday June 27, 2017, in which you requested "...all emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017."

The Agency would like to process your FOIA request as expeditiously as possible. However, we have questions with respect to the scope of the request. As received, your request extends beyond a single EPA employee (current and former), single office, and may require multi-agency engagement. Due to extremely limited resources at this time, this may mean extremely slow and incremental release of information that may extend over several months before the request can be fully completed. In order to reduce the amount of time for assessing resources, reduce the amount of records to be gathered, as well as initially determine and potentially reduce costs to you, it may be more valuable to narrow the scope of your request. Please consider narrowing your request to a specific subject that may only involve a single EPA employee (current and former), a single office, or a specific agency. Without this clarification we are unable to appropriately begin assessing approximate response times and costs for your request.

We would like to provide you the opportunity to clarify the records that you are seeking. This FOIA request is tolled until we receive your clarification or modification. Please respond to this request for clarification or modification within ten calendar days from the date of this letter. Once we receive your clarification or modification, we will continue processing your FOIA request. If we do not receive a response from you within this time period, we will consider your request to be voluntarily withdrawn.

Please contact me at hall.tayoka@epa.gov or I can be reached at (202) 564-0963 if you would like to set up a time to further discuss your request.

Thank you for taking the time to reconsider the scope of your request.

Sincerely,

Tayoka Hall

Program Analyst

Office of Environmental Justice

From: hall.tayoka@epa.gov

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-008872
This letter concerns the above-referenced Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) on Thursday June 27,  2017, in which you requested “… all emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017.”
The Agency would like to process your FOIA request as expeditiously as possible.  However, we have questions with respect to the scope of the request.  As received, your request extends beyond a single EPA employee (current and former), single office, and may require multi-agency engagement. Due to extremely limited resources at this time, this may mean extremely slow and incremental release of information that may extend over several months before the request can be fully completed. In order to reduce the amount of time for assessing resources, reduce the amount of records to be gathered, as well as initially determine and potentially reduce costs to you, it may be more valuable to narrow the scope of your request. Please consider narrowing your request to a specific subject that may only involve a single EPA employee (current and former), a single office, or a specific agency. Without this clarification we are unable to appropriately begin assessing approximate response times and costs for your request.
We would like to provide you the opportunity to clarify the records that you are seeking.  This FOIA request is tolled until we receive your clarification or modification.  Please respond to this request for clarification or modification within ten calendar days from the date of this letter.  Once we receive your clarification or modification, we will continue processing your FOIA request.  If we do not receive a response from you within this time period, we will consider your request to be voluntarily withdrawn.
Please contact me at hall.tayoka@epa.gov or I can be reached at (202) 564-0963 (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov) if you would like to set up a time to further discuss your request.
Thank you for taking the time to reconsider the scope of your request.
Sincerely,

Tayoka Hall
Program Analyst
Office of Environmental Justice
(202) 564-0963
hall.tayoka@epa.gov (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov)

From: hall.tayoka@epa.gov

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-008872
This letter concerns the above-referenced Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) on Thursday June 27,  2017, in which you requested “… all emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017.”
The Agency would like to process your FOIA request as expeditiously as possible.  However, we have questions with respect to the scope of the request.  As received, your request extends beyond a single EPA employee (current and former), single office, and may require multi-agency engagement. Due to extremely limited resources at this time, this may mean extremely slow and incremental release of information that may extend over several months before the request can be fully completed. In order to reduce the amount of time for assessing resources, reduce the amount of records to be gathered, as well as initially determine and potentially reduce costs to you, it may be more valuable to narrow the scope of your request. Please consider narrowing your request to a specific subject that may only involve a single EPA employee (current and former), a single office, or a specific agency. Without this clarification we are unable to appropriately begin assessing approximate response times and costs for your request.
We would like to provide you the opportunity to clarify the records that you are seeking.  This FOIA request is tolled until we receive your clarification or modification.  Please respond to this request for clarification or modification within ten calendar days from the date of this letter.  Once we receive your clarification or modification, we will continue processing your FOIA request.  If we do not receive a response from you within this time period, we will consider your request to be voluntarily withdrawn.
Please contact me at hall.tayoka@epa.gov or I can be reached at (202) 564-0963 (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov) if you would like to set up a time to further discuss your request.
Thank you for taking the time to reconsider the scope of your request.
Sincerely,

Tayoka Hall
Program Analyst
Office of Environmental Justice
(202) 564-0963
hall.tayoka@epa.gov (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov)

From: Graham Kates

Takoya,

Thank you for your response. I would like to significantly narrow my request, to include just materials produced by the Office of Environmental Justice's Associate Director during the time period specified (January 1, 2016 through June 25, 2017).

Best,

Graham Kates
Reporter
CBS News

From: Graham Kates

Tayoka,

Apologies for misspelling your name in sending the below request!

-----
Thank you for your response. I would like to significantly narrow my request, to include just materials produced by the Office of Environmental Justice's Associate Director during the time period specified (January 1, 2016 through June 25, 2017).

Best,

Graham Kates
Reporter
CBS News

From: Hall, Tayoka

Graham,

Thank you for narrowing your request. This helps us to focus efforts on searching for the right set of records. To ensure we begin researching documents for the right position during the time frame you have requested, please be aware that from January 1, 2017 through June 25, 2017, the agency’s environmental justice program may not have been organized with a position that is equal to an Associate Director management level position as you request.

Would you please further clarify if you would like records for one of the following positions that may be relevant to the timeframe your request: 1) Cynthia Giles (Assistant Administrator), 2 Mustafa Ali (Associate Assistant Administrator), 3) Charles Lee (Deputy Associate Assistant Administrator), 4) Matthew Tejada (Office Director), 5) Sheila Lewis (Deputy Office Director), or 6) Marsha Minter (Supervising Program Analyst).

Please respond as soon as possible within ten calendar days from the date of this email. Once I receive your clarification on which position you would like have records for, we will move as quickly as possible to begin processing your FOIA request. If we do not receive a response from you within this time period, we will consider your request to be voluntarily withdrawn.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at hall.tayoka@epa.gov<mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov> or I can be reached at (202) 564-0963 (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov) if you would like to set up a time to further discuss your request. Thank you again for narrowing your scope so that we can address your request as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

Tayoka Hall
Program Analyst
Office of Environmental Justice
(202) 564-0963
hall.tayoka@epa.gov<mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov> (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov)

Tayoka

From: hall.tayoka@epa.gov

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-008872
Thank you for narrowing your request. This helps us to focus efforts on searching for the right set of records. To ensure we begin researching documents for the right position during the time frame you have requested, please be aware that from January 1, 2017 through June 25, 2017, the agency’s environmental justice program may not have been organized with a position that is equal to an Associate Director management level position as you request.

Would you please further clarify if you would like records for one of the following positions that may be relevant to the timeframe your request: 1) Cynthia Giles (Assistant Administrator), 2 Mustafa Ali (Associate Assistant Administrator), 3) Charles Lee (Deputy Associate Assistant Administrator), 4) Matthew Tejada (Office Director), 5) Sheila Lewis (Deputy Office Director), or 6) Marsha Minter (Supervising Program Analyst).

Please respond as soon as possible within ten calendar days from the date of this email.  Once I receive your clarification on which position you would like  have records for, we will move as quickly as possible to begin processing your FOIA request.  If we do not receive a response from you within this time period, we will consider your request to be voluntarily withdrawn. Please do not hesitate to contact me at
hall.tayoka@epa.gov or I can be reached at (202) 564-0963 (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov) ( mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov) if you would like to set up a time to further discuss your request. Thank you again for narrowing your scope so that we can address your request as quickly as possible. (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov)

Sincerely,
Tayoka Hall
Program Analyst
Office of Environmental Justice
(202) 564-0963
hall.tayoka@epa.gov ( (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov) mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov). (mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov)

From: Graham Kates

Tayoka,

Thank you for the opportunity to further clarify my request. If it's possible, for the time period January 1, 2017 through June 25, 2017, I would like the search to include Cynthia Giles, Mustafa Ali and Marsha Minter.

Best,

Graham Kates
Reporter
CBS News

From: Hall, Tayoka

Graham,

Thank you for further clarifying. I anticipate being able to provide you with a rough estimate of completion time and cost to complete your request no later than Friday July 14, 2017.

In the interim, should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at hall.tayoka@epa.gov<mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov> or I can be reached at (202) 564-0963 if you would like to set up a time to further discuss your request.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Tayoka Hall
Program Analyst
Office of Environmental Justice
(202) 564-0963
hall.tayoka@epa.gov<mailto:hall.tayoka@epa.gov>

From: Hall, Tayoka

Hi Graham,

Apologies for the delayed response. It took some time assess and determine costs associated with providing the documents as requested. It may be necessary to reassess the types of documents you need that wll meet your previously narrowed scope. Your FOIA request has a fee limit of $25.00. The cost to deliver documents based on the last attempt to narrow the scope of your request will exceed your fee limit at a minimum of $139.04 for two hours of record search and document conversion alone. With nearly 5000 records or files, this initial estimate also does not take into consideration the cost for review and redaction which may exceed an approximate $12,000.00.

Please call me at your earliest convenience to discuss your FOIA request. You may reach me at (202) 564-0963.

Tayoka

From: Graham Kates

Tayoka,

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes. With that in mind, I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest, because the Environmental Protection Agency is in the midst of profound policy and staffing changes, in particular with regard to environmental justice initiatives such as the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, and as such these documents are likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations of this government initiative.

Best,

Graham

From: Hall, Tayoka

Hi Graham,

I understand. At the moment, I am not aware of or see a record of approval for a fee waiver being issued. However I will contact our FOIA office tomorrow to determine the status of a waiver for your request.

I'll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Tayoka
Sent from my iPhone

From: Graham Kates

Hi Tayoka,

Sorry, that's my fault. I hadn't requested one, but now am. Should I send it to a different office?

Best,

Graham

From: Hall, Tayoka

Yes. The requests for waivers must be submitted through EPAs FOIA office.

We'll need to hold your request until a decision is provided to you. As soon as you receive a response we'll be able to determine how best to move forward with processing your request.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions in the meantime.

Tayoka
Sent from my iPhone

From: Hall, Tayoka

Hello,

As shared on July 20, 2017, the cost to address your request exceeded the $25 maximum to be paid by the requestor. To date we have not received a notice of waiver approval or further clarification to narrow the request which would potentially reduce costs to the requestor.

Also, as mentioned on July 21, 2017, the request was placed on hold until a waiver was requested and approved. Additionally, until the minimum payment for $139.04 for two hours of record search and document conversion is received or a waiver approved, we are unable to move expeditiously forward. With nearly 5000 records or files, the initial estimate for document preparation did not take into consideration the cost for review and redaction which, after further review, may now exceed an approximate $13,000.00
We would like to work with you to ensure your receive the information and/or records you are searching for as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, without a waiver approval, payment for initial search activities, subsequent document preparation which includes review and redaction, the request remains on hold. Please let us know if you have submitted a waiver request to EPA’s FOIA office and if it has been approved or denied. Also, if a waiver has been denied, please advise if the requestor will be submitting payment or further clarification so that we may move quickly forward.

We will continue hold the request as active and open until September 18, 2017, at which time this request will be closed.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, or need assistance in further narrowing your request to reduce cost.

Tayoka
Program Analyst
(202) 564-0963

From: Hall, Tayoka

Hello Graham,

As shared previously, your request was placed on hold pending receipt of document search fees in the amount $139.04 or receipt of a waiver approval for fees. I was also hoping you might be able narrow your request so that we could reduce costs and more quickly release documents to you.

Although it was noted that your request would be closed if we were not notified how you would like to proceed, in an effort to ensure you received the information you needed, I have kept the request open.

Please let me know by Friday September 22, 2017 if you would like to proceed with paying the fees, if you have been approved for a waiver, and/or how you would like to narrow the request further if possible.

The request will be officially closed effective Monday September 25, 2017. If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 564-0963.

I hope to hear from you soon,

Tayoka
Program Analyst
(202) 564-0963

From: Graham Kates

Hi Tayoka,

Thanks for writing. I tried giving you a call earlier. A while back I submitted a request for fee waiver and never heard back. That said, I'd be happy to narrow my search parameters to include just Jan. 20-May 1.

Thank you,

Graham

From: Hall, Tayoka

Hi Graham,

Thank you for the dialogue today and for clarifying and narrowing your search parameters so that we could identify documents that are responsive to your request. As agreed, you will be provided records within the timeframe of January 20, 2017 to May 1, 2017 for 1) Cynthia Giles (Assistant Administrator), 2 Mustafa Ali (Associate Assistant Administrator), and 3) Marsha Minter (Supervising Program Analyst). The records request will now be all emails or memos that reference:

1. IWG Budget or Funding
2. IWG Staff Changes
3. Meeting Agendas
4. Communication with EPA’s Administrator (to/from)
5. Grants or funding provided by IWG members for workgroup related activities

As mentioned, it is anticipated that with the narrowed search records could be released fairly quickly. A more definitive release timeframe, will be dependent on number records requiring review and any necessary redaction. It is anticipated that a more definitive release time frame can be provided by October 4th,

Also, as shared, I did discuss your waiver request with our National FOIA office following our conversation today. You should anticipate a notice of decision by the end of the week.

Thank you again,

Tayoka

From: hall.tayoka@epa.gov

09/28/2017 03:10 PM FOIA Request: EPA-HQ-2017-008872

From: hall.tayoka@epa.gov

Your request for Fee Waiver for the FOIA request EPA-HQ-2017-008872 has been determined to be not applicable as the request is not billable. Additional details for this request are as follows:
* Request Created on: 06/27/2017
* Fee Waiver Disposition Reason: N/A
* Request Long Description: Requesting all emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017.

From: Hall, Tayoka

Hi Graham,

Just wanted to provide a quick update.

Thanks to your revised record parameters and a more targeted search, it seems we may have preliminarily identified just under 1700 records which may be responsive.

There is also the possibility that this number may be reduced further with a more focused review which is currently underway.

It is anticipated that upon completion of the review, we will be able to begin reviewing and preparing records for release as early as Oct 12th.

I will update you as soon as possible, if it is determined that we are able to begin this process earlier.

Tayoka

From: Graham Kates

Hi Tayoka,

That sounds great! Thank you again for your work.

Best,

Graham

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Hello Graham,

Much apologies for the delayed response. Our original goal for release required some extension due to receipt and requirements for two much larger requests.

In addition, this fiscal year, our agency has instituted an additional level of review for documents being released to the public.

Despite these minor setbacks, I wanted to let you know that of 1,197 records considered to be potentially responsive (category of records pulled within the January 20, 2017 through May 1, 2017 timeframe), approximately 365 were identified and reviewed for release as being potentially responsive to your request.

Of the 365, an estimated 224 are being released in part (partially redacted to protect personal privacy information) with the remaining records being released in full (without redaction).

Please be aware that many of the records may be duplicative in nature, however to ensure the greatest amount of transparency, all records duplicate or not may be remitted to you as part of the release.

The redaction process has been completed and all records are being prepared for dissemination via FOIA online. I anticipate full release of all records through FOIA online within the next 3-5 business days.

I truly appreciate your patience as we worked through gathering, reviewing, and preparing your documents. A more formal letter describing the release will follow shortly.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me,

Tayoka
Office: (202) 564-0963

From: Environmental Protection Agency

RE:  Freedom of Information Act Request EPA-HQ-2017-008872
This letter is in response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) on June 27, 2017, in which you requested “…all emails, memorandums or reports that reference the "Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice" or "EJ IWG", produced during the year 2016, and between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2017”.
As clarified and agreed on September 26, 2017, the Office of Environmental Justice will provide records within the timeframe of January 20, 2017 to May 1, 2017 for Cynthia Giles (Assistant Administrator), Mustafa Ali (Associate Assistant Administrator), and Marsha Minter (Supervising Program Analyst). The records will include all emails or memos that reference IWG budget or funding, IWG staff changes, IWG meeting agendas, communication with EPA’s Administrator, and grants or funding provided by IWG members for workgroup related activities.
The Office of Environmental Justice has concluded its search for records responsive to your request and is providing 358 files for a total of 1094pages in full or in part. Portions of the records you requested are being withheld pursuant to FOIA Exemption 6, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6), which permits the government to withhold personal information “the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Information that has been withheld consists of personal information which may include personal home and email addresses, personal phone numbers, medical or familial information, and signatures which have been digitally scanned. No fees will be charged for this request.
This letter concludes our response to your request. You may appeal this response by email at hq.foia@epa.gov, or by mail to the National Freedom of Information Office, U.S. EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. (2822T), Washington, DC 20460. Only items mailed through the United States Postal Service may be delivered to 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue.  If you are submitting your appeal by hand delivery, courier service, or overnight delivery, you must address your correspondence to 1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 6416J, Washington, DC 20001. Your appeal must be in writing, and it must be received no later than 90 calendar days from the date of this letter. The Agency will not consider appeals received after the 90-calendar-day limit. Appeals received after 5:00 pm EST will be considered received the next business day. The appeal letter should include the FOIA tracking number listed above.  For quickest possible handling, the subject line of your email, the appeal letter, and its envelope, if applicable, should be marked "Freedom of Information Act Appeal." Additionally, you may seek dispute resolution services from EPA's FOIA Public Liaison at hq.foia@epa.gov or
(202) 566-1667 , or from the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). You may contact OGIS in any of the following ways: by mail, Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, Room 2510, 8610 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/agency/request/createCorrespondence?requestId=eBH9xklXWGLcHboF9XHZ0d7T8w82qleT#) ; email, ogis@nara.gov; telephone, (202) 741-5770 or (877) 684-6448 (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/agency/request/createCorrespondence?requestId=eBH9xklXWGLcHboF9XHZ0d7T8w82qleT#) ; or fax, (202) 741-5769 (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/agency/request/createCorrespondence?requestId=eBH9xklXWGLcHboF9XHZ0d7T8w82qleT#) (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/agency/request/createCorrespondence?requestId=eBH9xklXWGLcHboF9XHZ0d7T8w82qleT#)
Thank you for your patience as we worked to gather your requested materials.

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